The latest crisis facing cricket, and the looming spectre of India’s shock withdrawal from its current tour of the Australia says more about the petulant attitude of the Indians, than the arrogance and poor sportsmanship of Australia’s all-conquering Test team.
The usually spot-on Peter Roebuck and Charles Happell got it very wrong in pointing the finger purely at Australia’s actions in the Sydney Test. Roebuck even demanded today on the front page of the Smage today that “Ponting Must be Sacked”, claiming that:
The notion that Ponting can hereafter take the Australian team to India is preposterous. He has shown not the slightest interest in the wellbeing of the game, not the slightest sign of diplomatic skill, not a single mark of respect for his accomplished and widely admired opponents.
Harbhajan Singh can be an irritating young man but he is head of a family and responsible for raising nine people. And all the Australians elders want to do is to hunt him from the game. Australian fieldsmen fire insults from the corners of their mouths, an intemperate Sikh warrior overreacts, and his rudeness is seized upon.
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Singh was suspended for three Test matches by independent and experience match referee, Mike Proctor for uttering a racial slur towards Andrew Symonds. Such behavior is inexcusable. The fact that Singh is the “head of a family of nine” is certainly not an excuse, if anything, it proves he should have known better.
While the boorish arrogance of the Australians is an embarrassment, and the umpiring was terrible, they are merely sideshows to the main event (and it shouldn’t be forgotten that the driver behind neutral umpires was one-sided adjudicating in the sub-continent). The behavior of the Indian administration in effectively holding the ICC to ransom is disgraceful. The poor on-field behavior of the Australian’s is not an excuse for racism, nor is it a reason for not accepting the independent match referee’s decision.
The ICC must call the Indian’s bluff.
Already far too much power resides with the BCCI. The series between Australia and India was already delayed by a month due to Indian scheduling requirements. As a result, Australian spectators were bereft of cricket during virtually all of November and December.
While world cricket needs India’s revenue – India also needs world cricket. One suspects that the hundreds of millions of Indian cricket supporters would not appreciate their team playing series exclusively against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The ICC must re-assert its authority over the game – now is its hour of need. The cricket world was successful before India’s billions. But holding nations like England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand to ransom cannot be allowed to continue.